In Which I Get Naked. Also: A Dancing Skeleton

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.”

– George Bernard Shaw

No dummy, that Mr. Shaw.

In marketing your business, you can make fantastic use of that idea.

Those skeletons we so carefully hide, they can actually be a very useful tool to get more sales.

Provided you take them out of the closet and make them dance.

 

First the why, and then I’ll show you how.

 

When in business, it’s tempting to do nothing but paint rosy pictures

You’re fun, you’re smart, you’re capable and honest, you’re on time and communicate well…

You’d be great to work with, and that’s the message you want to convey.

So far, so good.

Problem is, if something sounds so good, if there’s nothing amiss… you don’t actually build trust, but you reduce it instead.

We don’t trust something that looks too perfect.

That goes back to my pet caveman Grog, remember him?

He might find prey in a forest clearing, but if there are no other animals around, they just might have been scared off by another predator, larger than him.

So his lizard brain tells him – and still tells us – that if something is absolutely perfect, something must be wrong.

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

That notion is hardwired into our brains.

 

To your prospects, a totally perfect picture has the same effect: it makes them apprehensive. Nothing could be that perfect, could it?

So instead of making everything look perfect, take one of your flaws and open up about it.

Get naked, admit you’re human.

Nobody expects you to be perfect.

In fact, we know you’re not.

And being able to say so is brave, effective, and shows that you understand you’re fallible, and that you’re ok with that.

It makes people like you more because you demonstrated that you have the courage to show the world that skeleton of yours.

Your sheer humanity.

You’re not afraid, you don’t hide.

You’re yourself, warts and all. Transparently. And people love transparency.

 

Not only that: if you look really closely, you’ll see that your biggest weak spot, the thing you’re most ashamed of, is actually at the same time a quality

Think about it: If your particular shortcoming is that you always give harsh snap-reactions to people, that means your brain works really fast, and that’s a quality.

Ok, so maybe it runs unchecked and you often upset people with it – that’s something you can work on.

But that actual aspect of your character? It’s good as well as bad, at the same time.

And showing that to people helps them like you, and trust you more, and that helps you get more sales.

My problem, my particular skeleton?

Let’s see, which one shall I pick today… Ah yes, this one. His name’s Bob.

Bob, say hi to the good people.

*Bob rattles a wave and clatters his jaw*

Good man. Now dance.

*Bob starts dancing an Irish jig*

 

Bob is one of my favourite skeletons

His fault is procrastination and I resent him for it.

More than once – or twice – I’ve missed deadlines.

Not the life-and-death, “we’re launching tomorrow and where’s my copy” deadlines – when push comes to shove I show up.

But I must (and no, this not an easy email to write) admit that sometimes I have to ask a client for another day, because I didn’t do my work on time.

It’s uncanny: I’ll sit myself down – research done and notes at hand – to start drafting pages, and right I hear the cupboard door creek open.

A second later I feel Bob’s boney hand on my shoulder.

“Dude, did you see the sunshine out today?”

Angrily, I rucksack my laptop and follow him out the door, pretending I’ll be doing some work on a terrace while he plays on the beach. I usually don’t.

And thusly, another golden afternoon is spent inefficiently – or so it seems.

Remorsefully I follow him back up to the house in the light of the setting sun.

 

And that’s always the moment Bob shows me why he’s actually there, part of my life.

I close the door behind me, and he smiles that lipless, no-ear to no-ear smile of his.

And I want to kick him in it.

Angry with him, with myself, and with the world.

But that’s when the magic happens.

I sit down, hoping I’ll have a good roll in the morning, writing that salespage.

My mind wanders over the notes and bits of draft I’ve pondered together in my mind, and suddenly:

CLICK

In an instant, the whole thing crystalises in my mind.

From the corner of my eye, I see a joyous glint in his empty eye-sockets as I whisk my laptop out of my rucksack.

And I know what he’s not saying: “You, Martin-boy, were not ready earlier today. All that research of yours, you had no idea of what to write with it. True or not?”

I ignore his unspoken words as I open a new file and start riffing a draft at breakneck speed.

“Aren’t you happy, now that I’ve forced you to sit and stare at the sea, now that all your ideas have slotted into place?”

I’m not listening anymore, absorbed in a torrent of ideas. My fingers barely keep up.

“You know I’m not all bad. Hm? Not really – I mean just look at that draft you’re creating!”.

Smug bastard.

 

I tell him to shut up and to go back to his closet – his work is done for the day.

He stalks off – very smugly – and hangs himself up on his hook.

 

Missing deadlines sucks.

I’m embarrassed to say it now, I’m embarrassed when I have to write to a client ‘Please allow one more day’.

But as a creative person – I’m pretty sure you can relate – pause and pondering are part of my work.

When I sit and stare at the sea, it looks like I’m wasting time.

It so much looks like it that even I believe it.

But in reality, it’s détente-time for my brain.

 

It’s when all the info I’ve been chucking in there gets reshuffled, when phrases and taglines get concocted, bubbling up by themselves.

It’s the time my subconscience needs to assimilate and puzzle together what I actually want to say.

For a creative person, purposeful procrastination is essential.

Without it, you’re only going to frustrate yourself, trying to create something that your creative engine isn’t ready to give you, yet.

I finish the draft before midnight, happy and satisfied. Good piece, it’ll be quick work to clean it up in the morning.

As I walk past his cupboard on my way to bed, I hear a rattle that sounds like ‘sweet dreams, little Stellar’ and there’s a distinct mockery to it.

 

Making your skeletons dance is good for business

But, you need to know how to do it because it can backfire horribly – which is why I’m planning to make issue #2 of the LEAP newsletter deal with exactly that.

Don’t forget: if you sign up before June 1st, you get 30 minutes of free consulting time on Skype with yours truly.

Best not miss it, I’d say.

Bob agrees.

Signup is here –> http://martinstellar.com/leapfrog-your-business/

Cheers,

Martin

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